Reece denies claims that clergy members abusing Alpha boys
Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter
Archbishop Emeritus of Kingston Donald Reece has flatly denied allegations that senior members of the Catholic Church have been preying on the wards of the Alpha Boys Home.
Reece told The Gleaner yesterday that these allegations could not be true, as senior members of the clergy were never working at the home.
"There is no high person in the Church at Alpha. It's lay people who are working with the boys. There are no high-church person there! So I think somebody is way off base here," Reece stated.
He said the claims of abuse were simply playing into a sort of anti-Catholic hysteria.
"There is a certain anti-Catholic sentiment in our society and, therefore, they jump into that and probably project from that what has been published in papers abroad regarding paedophilia and apply (it) to Alpha," Reece said, adamantly reiterating that there are no priests at Alpha.
Reece was speaking in relation to recent letters to the editor that demand a fulsome investigation into allegations of rampant sexual abuse being carried out at Alpha, both by caregivers and some wards.
In a letter titled 'Don't Cover Up Alpha Sex Horrors' published last Friday, noted attorney-at-law, Jacqueline Samuels-Brown, said she was aware of a case in which "former residents of Alpha, now grown men, will speak privately of employees (including persons holding high positions in the Church) who would ritualistically enter the dorm in the nights and select the boy(s) of their choice who would be forced into inappropriate relationships".
Samuels-Brown said the situation may be more pervasive than Youth Minister Lisa Hanna has intimated to the public.
Shirley Richards, former president of the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship, said based on the minister's revelations and Samuels-Brown's letter, a probe should be launched into the happenings at the place of safety.
Reece said while he agreed a probe should be launched, care must be taken to not make this investigation "flamboyant", and efforts should be taken to ensure that the welfare of the children is at the forefront.
He added that Alpha should not be singled out for any such probe, as abuse may also be taking place in other children's homes.